With the year end celebrations mostly behind us it's time to look ahead. 2010 is just days away and as I do every year here's my wish list for a year filled with better news on the crime and justice beat.
My top wish is for everyone to truly understand the threat anti-American terrorism still holds for our country. To highlight that I wish the upcoming trials in New York for the 9-11 terror suspects would be televised. Just as the Watergate hearings enlightened America about the politics of the day, televising these trials would give citizens the chance to stare in the face - and better understand - the enemy who wants to obliterate our civilization.
Anything having to do with the safety and welfare of children is always tops on my wish list. As futile as it seems I wish all children enough love, good food and education so that they can ultimately rise above any hardship. I wish for no more foolish Octo-mom types or children scarred by the actions of their uncaring criminal parents. I wish for fewer pedophiles to act on their sick impulses.
I wish we could get our arms around the massive immigration problem which has been allowed to fester for too many years. Once our economy rebounds, as it surely will, America will once again be flooded by illegals reaching for the dream. What better time to begin putting restrictions into place than now?
In 2010 I wish to read no more stories about professional athletes killing innocent people while driving drunk, beating their wives or girlfriends or cheating by taking illegal steroids.
I wish that next year all celebrities are made to face the exact punishment you or I would face for the crime committed. And I really wish not to have to report on another story about a moron who did a moronic thing hoping they'd get a reality TV show out of it. (Hello, Balloon Boy Dad, are you listening?)
I hope the special Veterans Court I wrote about back in June, which began in Judge Robert Russell's court in Buffalo, New York, spreads nationwide to help the certain influx of returning veterans with readjustment problems who will get into trouble with the law. They'll need our understanding.
For victims of violent crime I wish society would realize that their lives can never return to "normal." Neither can those who've escaped religious based cults. They need our sympathy and support to reduce their pain and get on with living.
Peace officers and their families need special consideration too. When you see a fellow citizen wearing a badge I wish you'd remember their loved ones live with the notion every day that he or she might not come home. This year 44 sworn officers were killed while trying to keep the rest of us safe. That said, I also hope all law enforcement departments look inward and respond appropriately when the abused and battered spouse of an officer calls in for help.
Once again I wish that the nation's countless thousands of languishing DNA rape kits would be processed and the results logged in a national data base. Rape is often a serial crime with one perp responsible for dozens of attacks. Test those kits, let's try to convict those responsible and get them off the street!
As far as our overcrowded prisons go: I sure wish we could figure out a way to keep the career criminals locked up and those redeemable convicts rehabilitated and re-assimilated back into society in a way that doesn't endanger innocents.
Toward lowering prison populations I really wish we could do something about the massive number of drug addicts clogging our prisons. Hey, how about launching a national effort to have our most brilliant medical minds to come up with a way to successfully treat addictions?
Speaking of addicts, I wish we'd start punishing doctors who feed the massive problem of prescription drug abuse by routinely over-prescribing narcotics. Yank their medical licenses - period.
I wish that somehow prostitution could be wiped out but, of course, I know it never will be. It's not a victimless crime and I don't want to report on anymore mass graves of forgotten sex-trade workers like the one found in Albuquerque this past year.
I also wish we'd straighten out that blasted sex offender registry which has way too many people on it who don't deserve to be there; teenagers turned in by angry parents or spouses forever tainted by an ex bent on revenge. There has to be a better way to list and keep track of true predators.
Despite the challenges I continue to wish more young people will be attracted to careers in the justice system: law, forensics or law enforcement. We need all the bright young minds in the field we can get.
Here's to a 2010 in which we all feel safer!
Diane Dimond can be reached through her web site: www.DianeDimond.com